On 29 April the Central Committee (CC) of AKEL, the Communist Party which until 28 February 2013 held the presidency of Cyprus, declared that "the only choice for Cyprus is a solution outside the loan agreements and Memorandum. The implementation of such a solution is likely to constitute a decision for exit by Cyprus from the Euro".
The next day, 30 April, the Cyprus Parliament ratified the Memorandum, an economic agreement with the EU and ECB, by 29 votes against 27.
The new governing party, the conservative and Christian-Democratic Democratic Rally, voted for. So did the Democratic Party (centrist liberals) and the President of the European Party. AKEL, EDEK (social democratic), the ecologists, the other member of the European Party, and an independent voted against.
AKEL is the first mass party of the left in Europe to raise exit from the euro, and its decision has caused considerable debate in the Greek Left and especially in Syriza.
It is a challenge to the Syriza leadership's stance, which refuses even to consider that its programme might lead to sharp clashes with the eurozone authorities. At the same time, AKEL's decision is quite limited and in no way raises the issue of an alternative economic model beyond and outside the framework of capitalism.
AKEL, when in government, implemented a series of cuts, and last November brought Cyprus into a first Memorandum. Even now the AKEL CC implicitly evaluates positively AKEL’s memorandum. It says that the new Memorandum constitutes "a serious negative qualitative differentiation" from the previous one, and declares "its readiness to support the government in the difficult task of tackling the economic crisis provided that it is moving in the right direction".
AKEL's euro-exit proposal is addressed primarily to Cyprus's new right-wing Government, inviting it to negotiate an exit and put the plan to the people in a referendum.
Far from AKEL proposing euro-exit in association with a refusal to meet debt payments, it declares that "the importance of a coordinated euro-exit is interwoven with the process of negotiating the repayment of Cyprus’s foreign debt with its lenders".
The European Party, EDEK, and ecologist MPs that voted against the Memorandum also expressed concern over the loss of "national sovereignty", but no intention to challenge the capitalist system.
In Greece, the Syriza leadership of Syriza in trying to evade conflict with the ruling class of Greece, in the mistaken hope that a smooth conflict-free scenario will fast-track its ascent to government and increase its support among the scared middle layers. Safeguarding Greece’s position within the Eurozone is a key choice for the vast majority of Greek capitalists.
The greater part of AKEL does not want to come into conflict with the Greek Cypriot capitalists, and AKEL repeatedly proved that during its time in government.
However, because the EU/ ECB/ IMF Troika has chosen to demand serious measures against Cyprus's swollen banking system, thus hitting a very large part of the ruling class of Cyprus, a large chunk of the Cypriot capitalist class is seriously discussing exit from the euro.
That is why AKEL can propose to exit the euro, without coming into conflict with the Cypriot capitalist class.
Back in March a major survey by the Cypriot channel Sigma recorded 67.3% of Cypriots endorsing a euro-exit and closer relations with Russia. This survey showed a sharp rejection of the handling of the crisis by the new president, Nicos Anastasiadis. The question of exiting the Euro is no longer taboo in Cyprus, partly because of the experience of social regression in other EU countries caused by the implementation of successive Memoranda, but also because the Cypriot ruling class has important international alliances that go beyond the eurozone and the EU.
The AKEL CC did identify a need to establish international alliances to address those parts of the Cypriot and international capitalist classes that would fight against euro-exit and to guard against a reaction from Turkey in relation to the exploitation of Cyprus's gas resources. However, AKEL did not specify who its potential allies are. Is Samaras's Greece, Rajoy’s Spain, or the working-class movement in Europe and the Middle East?
The replacement of the current Memorandum by another more patriotic Memorandum, and reliance on negotiations and agreements with the neoliberal leadership of eurozone to organise a euro-exit, are not part of an answer for the Left and working-class people to the crisis.
A class approach requires building alliances with the workers and peoples of the Middle East and Europe, especially southern Europe, who have been fighting against the onslaught unleashed by international capitalism.
After the experience of Cyprus, the leadership of Syriza has shifted from a bit, from a stance of "at all costs stay in the euro" to "stay the euro, but not at all costs".
The Syriza leadership still does not have the courage take up the slogan of Syriza's left: "No sacrifice for the euro". That means fighting for a working-class programme without any "self-censorship" in the name of the euro.
Neither Syriza nor anyone else on the left will find a way forward if they ontinue to see the euro as a fetish, either negative ("There is no life outside the Eurozone") or positive ("Exit from the euro is the answer").
There is life outside the euro. There is austerity outside the euro too”. There is austerity and capitalist cannibalism inside and outside the Eurozone, inside and outside the EU. The culprit is the universality of capitalist crisis and capitalist domination!
Exit from the euro could mean an even more unbearable austerity if the leading force is the bourgeoisie or a government of the Left with the illusion that the decisive choice is the currency itself.
Despite dominating the political discussion, the currency is not the "big choice". The big choice for the Left is the revolutionary program of transitional demands of rupture and anti-capitalist overthrow, and the decision to raise the class struggle and be prepared for an all-out confrontation with our class opponents for its implementation by all means and under all circumstances.
We need a workers' government, which would be based on workers' democracy, workers' and social control, self-organisation, and workers' militias.